More MS news articles for June 2001

American Society of Gene Therapy: Genomic Data Will Provide the 'Feeder Layer' to Advance Gene Therapy

Friday June 1  2:06pm
Source: PR Newswire

SEATTLE, June 1 /PRNewswire/ -- The human genome project is catalyzing the discovery of new genes and the identification of the role that individual genes play in human health and disease, and these genomic data will create new applications for gene therapy. Dr. Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, discussed the impact of the human genome project on the field of gene therapy in a plenary session Thursday morning at the American Society of Gene Therapy Annual Meeting.

As the keynote speaker at the George Stamatoyannopoulos Lecture, Dr. Collins spoke about the, "The dawn of genomic medicine." The recent sequencing of the human genome has determined that there are about 30,000 human genes. According to Dr. Collins, genes have been identified for 1,000 diseases, many of which are rare genetic disorders. Gene therapy already is being evaluated in the treatment of a number of these diseases. Dr. Collins believes that many hereditary risk factors for diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis and asthma will be identified in the next five to seven years. The identification of additional disease-related genes is likely to expand the potential applications of gene therapy.

The most surprising finding to come out of the human genome project, according to Dr. Collins, is how much the human genome tells us about human biology, health and disease. Additionally, the data show that all humans are 99.9 percent identical at a genetic level. Dr. Collins emphasized that while we are all virtually identical from the standpoint of our DNA, our ability to share equally the potential benefits emerging from genomic data will require a concerted effort to ensure access to new therapies and to prevent genetic discrimination in any form.

The American Society of Gene Therapy is the largest medical professional organization representing researchers and scientists dedicated to discovering new gene therapies. ASGT was established in 1996, and has grown to more than 3,000 members. It is committed to promoting and fostering the general field of research involving gene therapy and to promoting professional and public education in all areas of gene therapy.

Source: American Society of Gene Therapy
Contact: Joan Geiger, 206-219-4538, or Michele Martinez, 414-278-1341, both for American Society of Gene Therapy